Located at the southernmost tip of Central America is Panama, a land bridge connecting the Americas.
In 1821, Panama joined Gran Colombia when Central America revolted against Spain. It proclaimed its independence in 1903 with the support of the U.S. Today, Panama is rapidly developing and has a bright future ahead, popular among expats looking to live abroad in the region.
Though the country is small, Panama is very diverse. You can find incredible coasts along the Pacific and Caribbean, opening your world to so many fishing, scuba diving, and surfing opportunities. Mountains, rainforests, and rural farmland are also packed into the small country. There are hundreds of islands in the blue waters nearby.
There are so many reasons to consider visiting, living, or retiring abroad in Panama. Low cost of living, summer-like climate, and reliable healthcare are among the many reasons. The country is safe and you won’t have to give up your quality of life just because you aren’t in the United States anymore.
- Official Language: Spanish
- Area: 28,640 sq miles
- Time Zone: Eastern Standard
- Population: 4 million
- Currency: Balboa, U.S. Dollar
Climate in Panama
Panama is summer all year long, with a long rainy season and a shorter dry one. Located at just about the equator, Panama is considered a Tropical Monsoon Climate, but is located below the Atlantic hurricane belt, so you don’t have to worry about getting caught up in a hurricane.
Temperatures are very consistent, staying around 85 degrees Fahrenheit, no matter the season. In lower elevations, such as Panama City, temperatures can reach the low 90s during wet seasons.
There are two primary seasons in Panama. From December through April, there is la seca, or the dry season. This is considered summer. There are about eight hours of sunshine a day with March being the driest month, with about 10 days of rain.
During la lluviosa, or the wet season, you can expect heavy rain in the afternoon almost every day, lasting about an hour, as well as thunderstorms. Panama averages 263 days of rain every year. If you want to avoid the rain, the Pacific coast tends to be a bit dryer.
Quality of Life in Panama
Panama boasts having quality infrastructure at North American standards, so you won’t have to give up your quality of life if you choose to move abroad there. Neatly everywhere you go, you can find drinkable water, reliable power, and high-speed internet.
The expat community in the Panama is growing steadily, especially in areas like Panama City and Coronado. Local Panamanians are quite welcoming to newcomers, making for a pleasant transition for expats moving to Panama. In fact, Panama is known for having some of the most inviting people in the world.
The healthcare in Panama is also attractive to foreigners. Medical facilities are modern and inexpensive. Many doctors in Panama speak English, due to medical training in the U.S. The biggest medical centers in Panama City are affiliated with U.S. hospitals. For example, Punta Pacifica is affiliated with John Hopkins.
Low crime rates are also quite attractive to visitors and those looking to retire abroad in Panama. Under the Martinelli government, there has been a drastic decline in crime rates. That even includes tourism crime.
Cost of Living in Panama
One of the biggest reasons people are relocating to Panama is the low cost of living. You will be able to make your pension last with the low price of food, housing, and utilities. A little bit of money can go a long way in Panama. There are parts of the country where you can live on $1,000 a month!
Another great perk is that Panama recognizes the U.S. dollar, so you don’t have to worry about exchange rates.
Panama Residency Options
As a tourist, you don’t need a visa for your first 90 days of visiting as a U.S. or Canadian citizen. If you plan on being more than a tourist, there are a variety of residency options to choose from for those looking to live abroad in Panama. Finding the right one for you should be a breeze. Here are some of your options:
- Pensionado Program– Panama has one of the most popular pensionado programs in the world. Among the many perks, pensionados get 10-50% off life needs from hospital visits to entertainment. To qualify you must have a pension of at least $1,000 a month.
- Friendly Nations Visa– This visa is for professionals and entrepreneurs from 47 countries that maintain a good standing through professional, economic, and investment relationships. The list of countries includes the U.S. and Canada. To qualify you must either open a business, find employment in Panama or purchase real estate which has a minimum $10,000 investment requirement. There are many Panama real estate investments that can qualify.
- Person of Means Visa– For people who want to hold a large amount of money in Panama, or buying real estate in Panama, this visa could be a good option. To prove you are self sufficient, you can either invest $300,000 into Panama real estate (plus $2,000 for every dependent), or deposit $300,000 in a 3-year Panama bank CD, with the same dependents requirement. You can combine these options as well. As long as the sum of the investment and deposit equals at least $300,000.
- Professional Employment Visa– If you have a college degree and can fill a job that isn’t reserved for a Panamanian national, this visa may be for you. After two years of employment, you can apply for residency.
- Reforestation Investor Visa– One of the many investment options in Panama is the reforestation investment visa. With a minimum investment of $80,000 in a forestry project, you can earn a visa that can lead to permanent residency after two years.
Panama Retirement Benefits
Many are choosing Panama as their retirement destination and no one can blame them. The perks that come with retiring abroad in Panama are quite appealing.
Here are some of the perks:
- 50% off entertainment
- 30% off bus, boat, and train fares
- 25% off domestic airline tickets
- Up to 25% off medications
- Between 10% and 20% off healthcare costs